Married couple Susan and Michael Dixon share how their experiences taking Ozempic have affected their health and changed their relationship with food.
When 51-year-old Susan Dixon was diagnosed with prediabetes, meaning her blood sugar levels were higher than normal, but not high enough to be considered type 2 diabetes, her doctor prescribed Ozempic off-label.
“I have an [aortic aneurysm], so because of my heart condition and because I’m pre-diabetic, my doctor wanted me to get some weight off,” Susan told Healthline.
Susan was already aware of Ozempic because her 54-year-old husband, Michael, began taking it about six months earlier to treat his type 2 diabetes and bring down his A1C to under 6. Within four months of taking the medication, his A1C lowered to 5. He also lost 15 pounds.
“Seeing Michael’s success absolutely influenced me wanting to try it,” Susan said.
Over the years, she tried several weight loss programs, including Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig, which brought her some short-term success. In 2008, before her and Michael’s wedding, she also took the prescription phentermine, and as a result, lost 40 pounds.
However, over the years, she found it hard to keep the weight off no matter what method she used. She said Ozempic has worked the best for weight management. After taking the medication for six weeks, she lost 14 pounds.
“[Ozempic] made me feel full and made my interest in food not really there. Michael would say, ‘What’s for dinner?’ and I thought, ‘I don’t really care.’ I’d have some cereal and a few bites of food, and I’d be okay. Food did not interest me,” she said.
The active chemical compound semaglutide that is in Ozempic can cause weight loss by making a person feel full, keeping them from emptying their stomach longer than usual, and by lowering blood sugar, said Dr. Rekha B. Kumar, associate professor of medicine at Cornell and Chief Medical Officer at Found.
Michael’s reason for trying Ozempic was solely to manage type 2 diabetes and lower his blood sugar rather than lose weight. In fact, he said for the 15 years he has lived with diabetes, he never tried to lose weight.
“I’m not someone who follows a diet, so I wasn’t the best patient and didn’t watch carbs and sugar intake,” he told Healthline. “I’ve never had a desire or drive to lose weight. I have to get more into that mindset because I know I should lose more weight.”
While taking Ozempic, he feels full faster. This makes him eat half of what he used to eat prior to being on the medication.
“I eat half a sandwich and say ‘Oh, I’m full.’ That’s why I lost weight,” he said.
After being on Ozempic for a few years, he became accustomed to responding to the full feeling.
“I’m able to put that other half sandwich down and I try to stop eating when I realize I’m full,” Michael said.
Susan also learned to eat smaller-sized portions due to Ozempic, and said it affected her desire to drink alcohol, too.
“I wasn’t a big drinker and drank socially before, but now if I have a second glass of wine or drink, it makes me feel ill, so I’ve cut down,” she said.
Since the Dixons are both on Ozempic, they said it helps them manage their weight together.
“Michael not wanting to eat makes me not want to eat. We try very hard not to snack between meals. If I say, ‘it’s time for dessert or popcorn before bed,’ and I notice he hasn’t eaten them, then I don’t have anything,” said Susan.
In 2022, the Food and Drug Administration reported shortages of Ozempic. This created controversy due to some people taking the medication off-label to lose weight.
The shortage affected the Dixons in different ways.
For the entire time Michael has been on Ozempic, he was able to get the medication filled. However, for the past three months, his insurance stopped allowing a 90-day supply, which means he no longer gets the discount (which was paying for two months’ supply and getting one month’s supply free.) He now is only able to fill one month at a time.
“Michael didn’t have an issue because his dosage is lower than mine. At the time of the shortage, my dosage was at 1mg and I couldn’t find that 1mg anywhere,” said Susan.
Due to the shortage, she was unable to fill Ozempic for two-and-a-half months, and during that time, she regained 10 to 12 pounds.
This is common and expected, said Dr. Sethu Reddy, president of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinology. If people lose access to Ozempic like Susan did or their insurance coverage changes and they can’t afford it, this could set back their health progress.
“The effects of GLP-1 analogs are not permanent and if the therapy is discontinued, their therapeutic effects dissipate,” Reddy told Healthline. “Theoretically, these medications will be taken for several years, but it is well known that those with type 2 diabetes eventually lose their ability to make insulin and eventually will need insulin therapy.”
Kumar added that a long-term commitment should be considered when starting any medication for a chronic condition, such as diabetes and obesity.
“If someone is taking Ozempic off-label or Wegovy on-label, those would need to be continued for weight maintenance as well,” said Kumar. “Long-term use of medicine for weight management is not unique to the GLP-1 class of medicines, but is true for all medicines used for weight management.”
By the time Susan was able to get Ozempic filled again in February 2023, her doctor increased her medication dose. Since then, she lost 5 pounds.
“I don’t feel as successful as I used to feel before I had to stop taking it. It’s working still but not as well as it did in the beginning. My appetite is not as suppressed, but like before, food doesn’t excite me,” said Susan.
Ozempic has been successful at lowering her blood sugar, though. However, if her blood sugar continues to lower to the point where she is no longer pre-diabetic, her doctor told her she would most likely prescribe Wegovy to continue with weight loss.
“I would be happy to no longer have to take Ozempic for blood sugar control, and I’d take Wegovy to try to lose more weight,” said Susan.
Michael plans to stick with Ozempic as long as his doctor prescribes it for diabetes management.
“I also take metformin for my diabetes, so I’ll keep taking that and Ozempic since they both seem to be working,” he said.